On the 5th of June, remember not only the birth of
also the victory of Owen Roe at Benburb
in 17th century Ireland was going from bad to worse.
Even those native Irish Catholics who were still in possession
of their land could, at best, only be inferiors in their own
country, and that number was always shrinking. Owen Roe
O’Neill (nephew of the Great Hugh), one of the finest
professional soldiers in all Europe, then in the Irish Brigade
in the service of the King of Spain, was irreconcilably opposed
to the new order in Ireland, and to those responsible for the
injury being done to his homeland. Owen Roe prepared himself to
be able to sail to Ireland once the people had risen.
1641 Irish frustration at the injustices of the Plantation,
particularly in Ulster, erupted into violent opposition. In 1642 Owen Roe returned to join the Rising,
arriving at Doe Castle in Donegal in September accompanied by
some two hundred Irish professional soldiers (including officers
and sergeants), veterans of the Spanish-Irish regiments,
together with military supplies. The native force which he came
to assist were no more the stuff of a professional army than
were those American patriots who took refuge with George
Washington in Valley Forge.
the next four years Owen Roe O’Neill, and his cadre of
Irish veterans, would do as fine a job as the Baron von Steuben
would later do for Washington in the creation of a
professional fighting force from men, many of whom were past
masters at hit-and-run harassment, but had never stood in line
of battle (this lack of formal training had been a fatal flaw at
Kinsale at the beginning of the century, that even the
intuitively brilliant Hugh could not overcome).
Despite the nationalist intentions of the chief conspirator in
bringing about the Rising and creating the form for a government
for an independent Ireland, Ruairí Ó Mordha, King of
Laois (and grandfather-to-be of Patrick Sarsfield), the
revolutionary government of the Irish, however, wasn’t all that
revolutionary, but rather a coalition known to history as the
Confederation of Kilkenny.
1641 and 1649, for the first time since the Norman
conquest, and the last before 1922,
Ireland was recognized by the
international community as an independent nation. Even though the
Cromwellian conquest of 1649/50 made short work of Catholic
Ireland's revolution (which wasn’t exclusively Catholic), it
nevertheless ranks as one of the most successful revolts of
early modern history.
brightest star in the Gaelic firmament was
Eoghan Ruadh Uí Néill (Owen Roe), and, on the road toward
sovereign Irish republic he sought to achieve, his
crowning achievement was the
Battle of Benburb, 5th June 1646.
Chick here for a related article